Citrix NetScaler or F5?

This year I have seen a large increase in the number of Citrix NetScaler projects we have been engaged on. Citrix NetScaler is a proven and simple platform for application high availability and optimisation at the network level. We see NetScalers being used primarily for load balancing with web caching and Global Server Load Balancing (GSLB) also commonly being deployed.
In Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Application Delivery Controllers (Oct 2012) only Citrix NetScaler, F5 and Radware are in the Magic Quadrant. In New Zealand the biggest competition to Citrix NetScaler is F5. Given we are a Citrix focused business most of our clients are running Citrix XenApp or Citrix XenDesktop so when we have a conversation around application delivery controllers the benefits of NetScaler over F5 are easier to quantify; with every edition of NetScaler comes Access Gateway Enterprise Edition so you can use one device for both application delivery/load balancing and remote access. Yes, I know F5 also have integration into XenApp and XenDesktop for remote access, but why introduce another vendor into the stack? Especially when the are questions whether remote access via F5 is supported by Citrix.
If you’re already a Citrix customer, keep it simple and stick with Citrix end-to-end. That is one of Citrix’s points of difference; their end-to-end product suite from client & desktop to networking to server. If you are not already a Citrix customer then the choice is more difficult. Look closely at your requirements, evaluate the products and obtain some pricing.
You can read theGartner Magic Quadrant for Application Delivery Controllers report here.


  1. Can you please provide more information for NETSCALAR with Xenapp & Xendesktop Deployment.

  2. This was really useful ,Thanks a Ton

  3. Karel Boom says:

    Hi Jason,
    Your remark about sticking with a single vendor does not have to be apealing for all end users. Customers should consider whether or not they like a vendor lock in. This has positive (suport) and negative (less flexibility) aspects. If we follow this, they should run Microsoft, as Microsoft runs on the server and desktop, zo should be best Hyper-V and VDI solution…. That is not what you want as a Citrix reseller…. Customer should decide on functionality and flexibility and then companies like Radware or F5 might be good afterall.

    • Hi Karel,
      I look at this as “vendor compatibility” rather than “vendor lock in”. Or maybe the path of least resistance! Having just finished a XenApp project where our client chose F5 over NetScaler (for F5’s integration with VMware SRM), I’ve seen the headaches getting the remote access to work with XenApp… in fact, it’s still not working after engaging F5 engineering and rebuilding the F5 several times. This confirms my thoughts that unless you have a very good reason, stick to NetScaler if you are a Citrix shop.
      Your analogy with Microsoft server/desktop/hypervisor made me think; but I think a better analogy is Microsoft SharePoint with Internet Explorer, or Outlook with Exchange – sometimes products from the same vendor just work better together, reduce the complexity and eliminate the finger pointing when something goes wrong.
      Thanks for your comments – I appreciate someone challenging my thoughts!!

  4. Hello Jason,
    can you comment what issues that customer had with F5 BIG-IP for Xenapp ?
    Is that related to ICA rewrite that F5 does (and which is not supported by Citrix support as pointed in KBlink that you provided) ?
    Is it really not working or just not supported ?
    F5 claims that they fully support Citrix VDI solution.
    I’d appreciate if you can share some insight on the problems.

    • Hi Juraj,
      The F5 work in the project is handled by someone else so I cannot give exact details. However, it is just general configuration of the F5 iApp for Citrix causing the problem. And yes, it is not working at all at this stage.
      Sorry I can’t be more specific.

  5. hi Jason,
    this is wonderful, but may i have the more info related to F5

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